Glamorous show, flamboyance missing
- Jyothi Raghuram, Bangalore

August 19, 2011

Classical dance has today entered the realm of show business, the inevitable march towards such technical and professional approach adding to the overall production values. ‘Vande Vasudevam’ put up by Guru Jayarama Rao and Vanashree Rao along with their senior wards, at the Azad Bhavan in New Delhi recently, had all the ingredients of a colourful and glossy outing, the beautiful costuming, courtesy Vanashree, and brilliant lighting effects by Sharad Kulasrestha lending the show an element of drama and mystique in itself.

But the sum and substance of the dance had more to it. ‘Vande Vasudevam,’ an ode to Vishnu, drew from the Bhagavatham, using Kuchipudi in group format to trace several episodes in praise of Vishnu.  It brought into play composers Swati Tirunal, Annamacharya and the less-heard Oothukadu Venkatasubbaiar, with vocalist K Venkateswaran doing justice to the lyrics.

Beginning with the Annamacharya kriti in Sri raga, and concluding expectedly with the Geetopadesha (Ragamalika), the recital breezed through Jayadeva’s ashtapadi, “Lalita Lavanga” in raga Vasant Bahar, and Swati Tirunal’s “Ramana Vibho” (Aarbhi), among others.  Jayadeva’s Dashaavatara sloka and a tillana in Suruti rounded up the evening, with episodes such as Gajendra Moksha and Kalinga Mardhana woven in. The supposedly fleet-footed Tarangam, integral to a Kuchipudi recital, was a trifle ungainly and couched in indistinct footwork, although the dancers did not otherwise miss their steps.

Among the dancers, Reddy Lakshmi came out with glimpses of the coquettish and flamboyant form of Kuchipudi.  Young looking Vanashree was a little stiff-necked to allow for the florid movements to seep through. Lithe Jayarama Rao, the only male dancer, was taut and neat. His well-maintained physique was an admirable positive on stage. The Vishwarupa darshana, danced by Jayarama Rao and Vanashree, was literally the crowning glory of Vande Vasudevam, the lighting effects zooming the emotional impact of the crisp dance choreography.

The group freeze frames enhanced the dramatic effect of the compact numbers. Vasudevan (nattuvangam), R Kesavan (mridangam), Annadurai (violin), and Rajat Prasanna (flute) contributed to the professional touch of the outing.

Jyothi Raghuram is a journalist with over two decades experience in both the print and electronic media, having worked with news organizations such as PTI, The Hindu and Indian Express. Her specialized writings on the performing and visual arts have been considered as benchmarks for their comprehensive and in-depth dealing of the subjects.